How Long Does a Probate Take?

A Probate administration’s duration really depends on the facts of your case. There's two kinds of Probates that most people are going to file: Summary Administration and Formal Administration. Summary administration is where there's less than $75,000 or where the decedent has been dead longer than two years. Those are typically completed much more quickly. They're supposed to be the least complicated and can take anywhere from one to six months (six months being closer to the norm). If it's going to take a month, certain things have to go right. It can depend on the county, local rules, the particular judge and their own preferences. Sometimes having no will is faster because we don’t have to authenticate it. When there is a will, if it is self-proving (i.e. a will that can be admitted upon being filed because it has that the proper signing requirements with it), that will also speed things up.

Formal administrations often take more time to resolve. It's impossible for a formal to go less than around four months. First, we have to submit and admit the will - if there isn't one then we have to go through the intestacy process. Second, you have to wait for the estate to be opened and have the personal representative appointed. Third, we have to publish a notice to creditors and that takes three months in order to wait the required time period for claims to expire. There's no way to shorten the waiting period as it's defined by law. If there are any creditors claims or will contests that come in, the personal representative must faithfully respond to and resolve those claims. That takes quite a bit of time. As you’re seeing, less than four months is just about impossible. A six to twelve month range is a best case scenario if things go smoothly. If there's real estate that needs to be sold, you also can't just sell it for the first offer you receive. The personal representative must be getting a fair market value - if that takes a year, then the estate will be tied up for that additional period of time. If there's taxes or if there's any litigation with anyone, that is going to make your probate last quite a bit longer, potentially extending it into many years.

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